While some fathers impress their children with a new toy or an allowance raise, hacker Jose Julio gave his daughter the ultimate surprise, an air hockey robot built with 3D-printer parts.
Given its miniature size, this DIY robot can predict the puck’s movements, decide whether to block or shoot, and can be adjusted to different difficult levels. It’s assembled with standard RepRap 3d printer parts, all easily available and affordable. The air hockey table measures 100x60cm, a decent sized table that can be moved around the house with ease.
But despite its simple appearance, Julio’s creation hides some pretty complex engineering. He shared on his blog that he used the 3 motor design (2 for the Y axis and one for the X axis) and replaced some materials to minimize the weight and inertia. Unlike 3D printers that require a motion planning algorithm to function, the air hockey robot functions on a its own kind of software, which Julio wrote from scratch.
Because this system is fairly easy to reproduce, it proves to be a great way to teach children about concepts like physics and robotics. Julio says future improvements for the robot will include a goal-detecting feature and automatic camera calibrations.
See how the robot compares to human gameplay in the video below.